Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Charles Wesley’

Avoiding a Generic Thanksgiving.


Avoiding a Generic Thanksgiving

My thrice-great grandmother was a Choctaw Native born in South Mississippi in 1845. Her name was Clementine “Thankful” Page. I’m not sure what her parents called her in the day-to-day but I’ve imagined it would be great if she went by “Thankful.” I can imagine that name echoing through a house in those antebellum years. “Thankful, it’s time for dinner” or maybe, “Thankful, what did you do?” What a wonderful name and a great way to be remembered. For whatever reason, her parents chose to mark her life with a constant reminder of gratitude. Likewise, Christians have been given a new name in Christ and we should be marked by the virtue of thanksgiving. “Thankful” should be our name.

Many nations have their own traditional “Day of Thanks.” Here in the United States, our country celebrates Thanksgiving every fourth Thursday of November. It has a long history and has been on the books since 1863, when Lincoln declared, “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” To be sure, there are gluttonous excesses associated with the holiday that old Abe probably didn’t envision but I believe it can serve as a vital reminder to followers of Christ. Any “Day of Thanks” should serve as a genuine cue for the believer that real thanksgiving is a daily virtue skillfully pondered and carefully applied.

Move Beyond a Generic Thanksgiving

The interesting thing about Thanksgiving Day, Gerald Bray writes, is that it “manages to be religious and secular at the same time.”[1] However for the believer, a secularist perspective will not do. Bray gets to the point of this noting that, “Today it is a major celebration when people are expected and encouraged to be grateful, but no one specifies to whom thanks should be given.”[2] This requires us as Christians to move beyond a generic thanks.

So what is biblical thanksgiving? If we tied together the wealth of the Bible’s teaching we would see that thanksgiving is the recognition that God has blessed us. One of the biblical words used for “thanksgiving” (yada) means to praise, confess, or witness. These are words that are directed to something or better still, to someone. This of course points us to the fact that our confession and our witness are rooted in the character and work of the Triune God. As Christians, we do not offer generic thanksgiving to a generic Being with generic adulation. So, we confess the work of the Son as given by the Father in the power of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 2:14). As believers, we are witnesses to the grace of God, which has been richly lavished on His Church (Ephesians 1:3).

Thanksgiving for Every Occasion

In Scripture, especially in the Psalms, thanksgiving is often bound together with praise. So to offer praise to the Lord is to give thanks (Psalms 106:1Psalms 136:1). In thanksgiving, we loosen our tongues and proclaim with our voices all that the Lord has done. We declare all of His wonders (Psalms 26:7). So in this way, the Psalms can serve as a voice for our particular praises of thanksgiving (Psalms 95:2). Taking our cue from the Psalms we can learn to offer thanks in some unexpected places. We learn that thanksgiving can come through the channel of suffering, spiritual apathy, and lament as well as times of exuberance, joy, and prosperity. In this way Calvin was right to call the Psalms “An anatomy of all parts of the soul.” Biblical thanksgiving will move our hearts to confess the works of the Lord in all circumstances.

Thanksgiving Made Visible

The Church is the chosen vessel for making the praise of God visible in the world. On a few occasions, the Apostle Paul paused to offer thanks to God for the work and witness of the churches in which he ministered (see Ephesians 1:162 Thessalonians 2:3). Specifically, Paul noted how their faith had been enlarged by the example of their love for one another. Their perseverance under difficulty, their faith in the midst of persecutions, and their resilience in afflictions were all visible grounds for Paul’s thanksgiving. Christian, are you thankful for your church? Are you enlarging the faith of your fellow members? Are you modeling perseverance under duress? The gathered Church is the embodiment of the grace of Christ in the world. Our praises, fellowship, and various efforts for outreach are tangible expressions of thanksgiving to God.

Thanksgiving Every Day

365 days in a year offer us 365 unique opportunities to demonstrate our life in Christ. 365 opportunities to pray, to lead our family in worship, to grab a friend by the hand and pray with them, to minister to the sick, to prepare a meal for someone who is hungry, to take in a fatherless child, to go on mission, to write a check to a missionary, to roll up our sleeves and serve in the church, and 365 distinct opportunities to tell someone that “Jesus will set you free.” In this way, thanksgiving is every day.

Clearly, there are many opportunities to express thanks to God. Do our various celebrations of thanks carry the distinct aroma of the glories of Christ? For the Church, thanksgiving is every day. After all, her name is “thankful.”

Here are a few ideas for incorporating thankfulness into your Day of Thanks:

·         Read or sing Psalms of thanksgiving (Psalms 9, 30, 32, 34, 40, 41, 92, 103, 107, 116, 138).

·         Pray through Ephesians 1:3–10 and discuss with friends and family what Christ has done in your life this year.

·         Sing or listen to Charles Wesley’s hymn “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”

·         Have each person detail something they are thankful for and then use the opportunity to pray and give thanks to the Lord.

·         For small children, have them create a picture or a craft that demonstrates the practice of thanksgiving to God.

·         Serve someone in physical and/or spiritual need whether in your local church or in your community (nursing home, hospital, shelter, etc.).

Dr. Paul Lamey is Pastor of Preaching at Grace Community Church, Huntsville, Alabama. He and his wife, Julie, have four children. You can read more from Paul at his blog, expository thoughts and follow him on Twitter @paulslamey.


[1]Gerald Bray, God is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 35.

[2]Ibid.

Paul Lamey

Worship That Pleases God.


Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. —Psalm 29:2, KJV

Worship that is pleasing to God has several characteristics, the first of which is insight: the awareness of God that precipitates and inspires the worship. Next there is integrity: the ability of the worshiper to come before God in truth, with his whole being and nothing held back. Then there is indebtedness: the sense of our debt to God. Fourth, there is a sense of inadequacy: our inability to express the depth of our feelings toward God. Charles Wesley could only say:

O for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer’s praise. —Charles Wesley, “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” public domain

This quality of worship is possible only through the Holy Spirit. You cannot worship beyond the level of your insight. And you get that insight by the Holy Spirit. A feeling of indebtedness is proof that you realize that your insight is from God. A sense of inadequacy will also determine the quantity, or length of time, of your worship. You feel you must keep on trying to express your love and need of God. And this will continue throughout eternity. For we will always be unable to express our debt to God because we are in heaven and not hell.

True worship exposes our imperfection. It matters to God that we should see how imperfect we are. One of the most painful, as well as, usually, one of the last things we discover about ourselves is that we are self-righteous.

Our greatest joy and pleasure is to be found in God alone. So much of what is pleasurable in this life has to be shared with somebody else in order to be fully enjoyed. Even if we had tea with the queen, much of the joy would be in sharing what we had experienced. But the joy of being in the presence of God alone is the greatest joy there is, and it does not need to be shared.

Excerpted from Worshipping God (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004).

By R. T. KENDALL.

Worship That Pleases God.


Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Psalm 29:2, KJV

Worship that is pleasing to God has several characteristics, the first of which is insight: the awareness of God that precipitates and inspires the worship.

Next there is integrity: the ability of the worshiper to come before God in truth, with his whole being and nothing held back.

Then there is indebtedness: the sense of our debt to God.

Fourth, there is a sense of inadequacy: our inability to express the depth of our feelings toward God.

Charles Wesley could only say:

O for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer’s praise.

—Charles Wesley, “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” public domain

This quality of worship is possible only through the Holy Spirit.

You cannot worship beyond the level of your insight.

And you get that insight by the Holy Spirit.

A feeling of indebtedness is proof that you realize that your insight is from God.

A sense of inadequacy will also determine the quantity, or length of time, of your worship.

You feel you must keep on trying to express your love and need of God.

And this will continue throughout eternity.

For we will always be unable to express our debt to God because we are in heaven and not hell.

True worship exposes our imperfection.

It matters to God that we should see how imperfect we are. One of the most painful, as well as, usually, one of the last things we discover about ourselves is that we are self-righteous.

Our greatest joy and pleasure is to be found in God alone.

So much of what is pleasurable in this life has to be shared with somebody else in order to be fully enjoyed.

Even if we had tea with the queen, much of the joy would be in sharing what we had experienced.

But the joy of being in the presence of God alone is the greatest joy there is, and it does not need to be shared.

Excerpted from Worshipping God (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004).

By R. T. KENDALL.

A Quickening Ray.


The Lord has anointed Me . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.

Isaiah 61:1

Recommended Reading
John 8:31-36

Shortly after he found freedom in Christ, Charles Wesley wrote a personal hymn of testimony, the fourth verse of which famously says: “Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night.

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray–I woke, the dungeon flamed with light.

My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”

Imagine a prisoner wanting to stay locked up when he could be free.

Yes, that sometimes happens.

But why live behind bars when we could be romping in fresh air?

Christ died to set us free from sin, death, and hell.

He can instantly release us from gloom, despair, and hopelessness.

He redeems and liberates us.

He proclaims liberty to the captives and the opening of prison to those who are bound.

Why stay guilty when you can be free?.

Trust Christ today.

Believe His Word and accept His grace.

Goodbye shame!

Goodbye regrets!

Welcome grace!

As John 8:36 (NIV 1984) says: “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!”

Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Charles Wesley

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Lamentations 4:1-Ezekiel 2:10

By David Jeremiah.

John Wesley Biography.


Co-Founder of Methodism John Wesley, Driven to Serve God

John Wesley Co-Founder of MethodismJohn Wesley (1703-1791), Co-Founder of Methodism.Photo: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

John Wesley is known for two things: co-founding Methodism and his tremendous work ethic.

In the 1700s, when land travel was by walking, horseback or carriage, Wesley logged more than 4,000 miles a year.

During his lifetime he preached about 40,000 sermons.

Wesley could give today’s experts lessons in efficiency.

He was a natural organizer and approached everything diligently, especially religion.

It was at Oxford University in England that he and his brother Charles participated in a Christian club in such an orderly manner that critics called them methodists, a title which they gladly embraced.

The Aldersgate Experience of John Wesley

As priests in the Church of England, John and Charles Wesley traveled from Great Britain to Georgia, in the American colonies in 1735.

While John’s desire had been to preach to the Indians, he was appointed pastor of the church in Savannah.

When he imposed church discipline on members who failed to notify him that they were taking communion, John Wesley found himself accused in civil courts by one of the powerful families of Savannah.

The juries were stacked against him.

To make matters worse, a woman he had been courting married another man.

John Wesley returned to England bitter, disillusioned and spiritually low.

He told Peter Boehler, a Moravian, of his experience and his inner struggle.

On May 24, 1738, Boehler convinced him to go to a meeting.

Here is Wesley’s description:

“In the evening, I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

This “Aldersgate Experience” had a permanent effect on Wesley’s life.

He answered a request from fellow preacher George Whitefield to join him in Whitefield’s evangelism ministry.

Whitefield preached outdoors, something unheard of at the time. Whitefield was one of the co-founders of Methodism, along with the Wesleys, but they later split when Whitefield clung to the Calvinist doctrine of predestination.

John Wesley the Organizer

As always, Wesley went about his new work methodically.

He organized the groups into societies, then classes, connections and circuits, under the direction of a superintendent.

His brother Charles and some other Anglican priests joined, but John did most of the preaching.

He later added lay preachers who could deliver a message but not offer communion.

The clergy and lay preachers met on occasion to discuss progress. That eventually became the annual conference.

By 1787, Wesley was required to register his preachers as non-Anglicans.

He, however, remained an Anglican to his death.

He saw great opportunity outside England.

Wesley ordained two lay preachers to serve in the newly independent United States of America and named George Coke as superintendent in that country.

Methodism was breaking away from the Church of England as a separate Christian denomination.

Meanwhile, John Wesley continued to preach throughout the British Isles.

Never one to waste time, he discovered that he could read while walking, on horseback, or in a carriage.

Nothing stopped him. Wesley pushed on through rainstorms and blizzards, and if his coach got stuck, he continued on horse or on foot.

Early Life of John Wesley

Susanna Annesley Wesley, John‘s mother, had a profound influence on his life.

She and her husband Samuel, an Anglican priest, had 19 children.

John was the 15th, born June 17, 1703 in Epworth, England, where his father was rector.

Family life for the Wesleys was rigidly structured, with exact times for meals, prayers, and sleep.

Susanna home-schooled the children, teaching them religion and manners as well.

They learned to be quiet, obedient, and hardworking.

In 1709, a fire destroyed the rectory, and young John had to be rescued from a second story window by a man standing on another man’s shoulders.

The children were taken in by various parishioners until the new rectory was built, at which time the family was reunited and Mrs.

Wesley started “reforming” her children from the bad things they had learned in other homes.

John eventually attended Oxford, where he proved to be a brilliant scholar.

He was ordained into the Anglican ministry.

At age 48, he married a widow named Mary Vazeille, who deserted him after 25 years.

They had no children together.

The strict discipline and relentless work ethic instilled early in his life served Wesley well as a preacher, evangelist, and church organizer.

He was still preaching at age 88, just a few days before he died in 1791.

John Wesley met death singing hymns, quoting the Bible, and saying farewell to his family and friends.

Some of his last words were, “The best of all is, God is with us.”

(Information in this article is compiled and summarized from the following sources: The Wesley Center Online, ccel.org, ChristianityToday.com, and tlogical.com.)

By .

Another Declaration of Independence: Freedom in Christ.


So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32

Like millions of Americans this week, my mind is on the Fourth of July holiday and what it represents: our freedom as a nation.

This freedom is a precious thing, bought with the sweat, toil and blood of countless Americans who initially fought to obtain it (Revolutionary War), as well as those who have fought to secure it in the centuries since that fateful day in 1776.

Gratitude without measure wells up in my heart when I consider the brave men and women of the American military who, this Fourth of July, will be fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan to combat the tyranny of terrorism.

These soldiers stand in the train of valiant warriors who fought in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the first Gulf War.

Each of these conflicts—while unique in themselves—shared the common goal of protecting American freedom.

Today’s battles are no different.

But even as I prize my freedom as an American, I am moved to consider a greater freedom—my freedom in Christ.

It is the freedom that comes with being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

“If you abide in my word,” our Lord declares, “you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

This statement was shocking to Jesus’ audience.

These proud men thought they already had all the freedom they needed by virtue of being “offspring of Abraham” (8:33).

Jesus proceeds to point them beyond any national, social or religious freedom they might enjoy to the freedom that comes through His person and work: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin …

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (8:34,36).

Contrary to what Jesus’ listeners thought, they were in bondage to sin and subject to the tyranny of it.

Commenting on this passage of Scripture Leon Morris writes, “People do not always, or even usually, realize that they are in bondage.

They tend to rest in some fancied position of privilege, national, social or religious.

So these Jews, proud of their religion, did not even know their need to be free.”

Even as Christians we can fall prey to the temptation to trust in other things for our freedom from the tyranny of sin: status, money, good works, associations, etc.

But the true disciple finds freedom in Christ and Christ alone.

What am I trusting in today?

The Fourth of July is a wonderful time to consider our freedom—as Americans and as Christians.

Our national freedom is precious, but our freedom in Christ is of infinite worth.

The great hymn writer Charles Wesley was undoubtedly moved by his freedom in Christ when in 1738 he penned this stanza:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
F
ast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; 
My chains fell off, my heart was free, 
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

The saving truth that Jesus speaks of in John 8:32 brings ultimate freedom—freedom from sin and death and the devil; freedom from a life of futility and an eternity of wrath.

It is freedom from the tyranny of hate and bitterness and cruelty.

It is the freedom to love God and neighbor.

May this “Declaration of Independence” be on my lips and in my heart this Fourth of July holiday.

As you celebrate the Fourth of July, think of creative ways to make the “Declaration” of freedom in Christ to family and friends.

How can this holiday be a bridge to our loved ones to share the gospel?

By Mike Pohlman.

Tag Cloud